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Cultivating the art, heritage, and recreation of the river towns of Columbia, Marietta, Wrightsville and surrounding areas

Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center

26 Furnace Road

Marietta, PA 

Open Seasonally on Sundays 1 PM - 3 PM

Rivertownes Meetings: First Wednesday, 6:30 PM

Chickies No. 1

 

Chickies No. 1 was constructed in 1845 by Henry Haldeman, who in that same year turned it over to his sons, Samuel and Edwin. Furnaces built by the Haldemans were notable for their advanced technology. Chickies No. I went into blast in 1846 and was never out of blast for long periods thereafter. In 1848, it produced 2,464 tons of iron. It was the most productive and technologically advanced of the furnaces on the floodplain. The Haldemans were good managers and also had political connections in Harrisburg. Professor Samuel Haldeman, who was an internationally recognized scientist, wrote in engineering journals about furnace technology and is quoted extensively in Pearse's 1876 history of iron manufacturing. Chickies No. 1 was originally 32' high with an 8' bosh, but the furnace underwent a number of remodeling projects and was completely rebuilt in 1886. At that time, the stone stack was removed and replaced with an iron cylinder lined with firebrick and set on a mantle ring supported by six cast iron columns.

A separate concrete foundation supported the lower bosh and crucible. The resulting furnace was 65' high with a 12' bosh and an annual capacity of approximately 17,000 tons, thirty times its output in 1848. All new blast machinery, stoves and boilers were installed, and a new Romanesque-style brick cast house replaced the earlier one. Special rail connections for moving materials between the two Chickies furnaces were constructed. The principal ores used at the Chickies furnaces were brown hematite from Chestnut Hill located six miles east and magnetic ores from the Cornwall mines. The pig-iron produced was sold under the brand name "Chickies" through agents in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The furnace went out of blast permanently in 1899 and was dismantled not long thereafter.